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How We Work
At every step of the way, work with Polycot Associates is collaborative and transparent. You get access to our project portal for real-time visibility into our work for you. Expect frequent reports and communications to ensure that we are working in alignment with your priorities, your timeline, and your budget.
Getting Started with Polycot Associates
During your initial consultation we discuss your web project requirements. You receive an estimate based on the desired web work for review following that meeting. After deciding that you would like to work with us, we follow these steps to get started:
- We provide an initial consultation to discuss your high level web project requirements.
- We create an initial estimate based on a consultation with you about the work desired, and share it with you.
- If you agree to work with us, we'll create a statement of work (SOW), which is our practical and legal agreement with you. This is a form of contract that includes a description of the work to be performed, estimated payment, and particulars of the working relationship. When we both agree on the language of the SOW, we'll use an online system (Docusign) to execute the SOW.
- We'll ask for 50% of the low end of the ranged estimate for the project as a down payment. For larger projects, this percentage is negotiable. When we've worked through the initial payment, we'll invoice monthly until we've completed the project.
- We use an environment for project management and communication (Basecamp), which we'll share with you so that you have the option to track the project as closely as you like. We're committed to project transparency and clarity about costs.
- We'll work in phases of work, called sprints, usually of two weeks' duration. We'll report to you at the conclusion of each sprint, with details about work performed and completed, and budget status.
Clear communication is the foundation for our success. Our process ensures, step by step, that we deliver a business website that both meets your needs and exceeds your expectations. There are four major phases of work.
- We provide an initial consultation to discuss your web project requirements.
- We create an estimate based on a consultation with you about the work desired, and share it with you.
- If you approve the estimate, we'll create a statement of work (SOW), which is our agreement with you. This is a form of contract that includes a description of the work to be performed. When we both agree on the language of the SOW, we'll use a system to get electronic signatures to execute the SOW.
- We'll ask for 50% of the low end of the ranged estimate for the project as a down payment. When we've worked through the initial payment, we'll invoice monthly until we've completed the project.
- We have an environment for project management and communication, which we share with you so that you have the option to track the project as closely as you like.
- We'll work in two week phases of work, called sprints, and will report to you at the conclusion of each sprint on work performed and budget status.
1. Planning Phase
Essential to any web development project, the planning phase is when we get to know you - your business and your goals for development. Our team evaluates and defines your project process and scope to create a detailed project plan. Together we determine the desired conversion and interaction for site visitors, and we get a sense of your website features and functionality.
Our planning process results in user stories that describe how the website works and a project plan for development. You review the project plan, schedule, and risk factors. This is an ideal opportunity for you to ask questions so you can feel comfortable about moving forward.
2. User Experience and Website Architecture
Next we analyze the user stories and identify user roles and permissions. Your content is organized into menu structures for the site - this determines how users will interact and flow through your website. Then we identify and prioritize site features.
At the conclusion of this phase of development, your content plan, proposed sitemap, and wireframes showing basic layout are complete.
3. Content Management System
The next step is to select and install the content management system (CMS) that is used to develop the website (read about Drupal and Wordpress). The types of content for your website are created according to your content plan, and we start adding the content.
This phase results in the basic CMS setup and implementation based the defined website architecture.
4. Visual Design and Theming
The functional and visual design of your website is based on the initial wireframes showing the website architecture and layout, and this is followed by high-definition mock-ups of the site’s appearance. These mock-ups are intended to match the user experience of the site to your goals and branding.
Your website has a compelling look and feel, following industry standards while creating a unique web experience. We refine the look and feel based on your feedback, and do the technical implementation as a theme added to the website.
5. Technical Implementation
Mature platforms, such as Drupal and Wordpress, are used to build your website. In the implementation phase, we build out the functionality based on the agreed project plan. Refinements are made based on your feedback.
Our agile approach allows us to be responsive to emerging challenges and changing requirements. In this phase, we get the site ready for staging and quality assurance testing.
6. Quality Assurance
Throughout the process there are ongoing iterations of your website to test and review as it is built. This assures the highest quality deliverables to meet your satisfaction. As we approach launch, you are asked to do thorough testing to ensure your satisfaction with all aspects of the site.
7. Soft launch
In many cases, there is an initial launch of your website to a limited universe of beta users. This is a final level of quality assurance, allowing us to make adjustments based on informed user feedback before you publicize the site.
Following the soft launch, necessary adjustments are made, and your website is finalized for public launch.
Keeping your website up-to-date is important for the long-term, so we define potential maintenance and future updates. This is especially important when using a CMS, such as Wordpress, that requires regular updates to prevent bugs and decrease security risks. We can provide scheduled, periodic maintenance to address security issues and bug prevention.
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A Collaborative Process
Our process of collaborative problem solving, planning and development prioritizes critical business requirements over costly and low-value “nice-to-have” features at the beginning, and iteratively throughout your project. We can often include desired functionality with a more effective tool or process than what is initially requested or defined.
Our years of collective expertise as web professionals and continued fascination with learning about the web help your business maximize success on the web. We constantly assess your website project for critical technology adjustments that can be made along the way. Our step-by-step approach allows for the greatest amount of flexibility for your business website, ensuring you get what you want.
Why You Need a Strong Project Manager
A great Project Manager (PM) makes the project run smoothly by providing clear communication among all the collaborators throughout the development process. PM's make sure all parties are well-informed and on course throughout the project. On average, PMs spend only 10 to 15 percent of the time that web developers spend in bringing your vision to life - an important cost savings for you (link to a blog post). Polycot Associates' aim is to always deliver web projects within or below our estimated budget.
Polycot will deploy your site onto the hosting platform of your choice and provide maintenance on sites located in any hosting environment. We work with many hosting companies that range from small business to enterprise-level in their offering. We are proud partners of two elite hosting companies, Pantheon and Acquia.